The Adventures of Me and Ma!

So, I know my sissy is going to be very jelly when she reads this because instead of being able to experience what I did this past weekend with ma, she was lolling on a gorgeous beach with her wonderful hubby and 2 beautiful grandkids. I feel so bad for her. 🙄

Anyhoot, ma and I have been going out to lunch on Fridays so she can have fish. Yes, she grew up Catholic. And no, she is not a practicing Catholic but for some reason, she likes fish on Fridays so go figure. We’ve been going to the same place for a while now (a GREAT old bar that has the best fish ever! 🐡🐟🐠) but decided to try something new this past week. As always, I told ma to choose the place and as always, she said it was up to me. There’s no use arguing (been there, done that) so I said: “Ma, give me 5 choices.” She did and I made my choice. However, she grimaced at each choice I made until I picked the one (0n my 4th try) she actually wanted anyway. My ma is a clever woman.

The actual bar we like to eat at…I LOVE bar ambiance!

So, we head off to Pop’s (another great bar…I love love love bar food…😐) and are faced with a crisis right off the bat. The only tables available are the tall ones with the high bar stools. I chose a 2 topper (restaurant speak for 2 seats…I waitressed through my last year of college 🤨) and helped ma clamber up the stool. It was horrifying at best and I just knew she was going to topple off this backless seat and I’d be blamed. Luckily, she spotted an 8 topper that had seats with backs. She scaled down where she was sitting like Edmund Hillary coming down Everest, and once again, I helped her get on top another god-forsaken chair. She got settled and I said: “Ma, despite the debacle of getting you seated with 40 truckers looking on in horror, the fish smells really good!” She agreed and when the waitress came by for the order, ma said: “I’ll take the shrimp basket.”

Heh? All week I heard about how excited she was to eat fish with me and she orders shrimp. I said: “Ma, didn’t you want fish?” And she said, quite snippily I might add: “Kristi, shrimp are fish.” Oookkkaaayyy! They aren’t exactly the Walleye she was craving, but I guess any old crustacean would do.

We gobble down the food which was delicious and since it was ma’s turn to treat, she had to get her purse off the back of the chair to pay the bill. This required her turning around on a chair she could barely balance on while telling me to leave her alone, she could do it herself. After saying a quick prayer promising God that I would never curse again if ma didn’t fall over, she wrangled it up and asked me what she should leave for a tip. I said: “Five bucks, ma.” She looked at me as if I’d said, “Ma, give the waitress a kidney and let’s blow the joint.” However, since the poor was called to our table numerous times (by ma…), I knew she earned every bit of that fiver. Just sayin. 😳

When I got her back to her house, she said: “Kristi, you need to come in…I have an emergency I need you to deal with.” Thinking she was experiencing a carbon monoxide leak but wanted to eat first, I cautiously followed her in. She grabbed her iPad and said: “I can’t get past level 47 on this game you had me download.” I said: “Ma. For fuck sakes…THAT’s your emergency?” Yes…it was. She had tried over a dozen times to get past that particular level and asked if I could help. Since I’m on level 317 myself, I did it with a few minutes to spare. It’s hard to describe the look on her face right then. It was part pride, part gratefulness, and part disdain.

This particular thrift shop has a huge amount of doll inventory…they are terrifying to say the least.

The next day, I wanted some stuff for my basement and we went to a GREAT thrift shop in town that has a bit of everything (please Lord…let there be thrift shops in heaven…😬). As ma was looking at the clothes, I was digging around in old books and furniture. All of a sudden I hear a loud “KRISTI?!!!” I said, just as loudly, “MA?!!!” She kept shouting (yes sissy…shouting…😐) until I tunneled through the hodge podge of crap and found her. I said: “Ma, what the hell??” She said: “Do you like this top?” No, I didn’t. Did I tell her that? No, I didn’t. After all of the energy she put in to getting my opinion, I didn’t have the heart to tell her it was ass ugly.

After this adventure, we went to an antique furniture shop that looks like a hoarder bought anything and everything he had ever set eyes on in the last 100 years and threw it all in the very old, wooden, partly dilapidated building. The aisles (I use the term loosely) are approximately 10 inches wide and since most asses are bigger than that, you have to wiggle through them like those bubble tea beads through a straw. Ma and I had just gotten down the first aisle and had to trek back because a couple was coming down it the opposite way carrying chairs. After they were through, we went back in. To make a long story short, there were 12 fucking chairs in the set these boobs bought and instead of telling us they would be making numerous trips (6), we kept traipsing down the same aisle again and again until they’d come tramping back and we’d have to backtrack. Why didn’t we go down another aisle? Because this place is like a maze…one way in, one way out. And believe me, you don’t want to get lost unless you have provisions for at least a week.

Anyhoot, I had previously found the perfect piece for my basement (an AWESOME marble topped chest!) but didn’t have the cash at the time to pay for it. When I had pulled out my card days back, the salesman looked at me as if I were another life form using a currency never before seen on earth. He said: “We don’t take those things.” OK. Got it.

I told the guy I’d be back that weekend and he said he’d write out the sales ticket for it and have it waiting for me. The price was $150 but I got him down to $120. The owner of the shop, born during Lincoln’s time, was there when ma and I arrived and when he saw I had gotten a ‘discount’ he asked how I had managed that. I looked him straight in the eye and said: “I flashed the guy my boobs.” He didn’t flinch…just nodded and started loading it up. Apparently I’m not appealing enough that he wanted a rerun of that particular show. And no, I didn’t really flash ’em the first time around anyway. At least that’s my story…and I’m sticking to it. 😲

See the furniture piled up in the windows?? NOTHING is secured!

As the old geezer (who I will be referring to as Red from here on out) was loading up my stuff (that man might be old but my goodness, he’s strong 😳), ma found some vintage quilts. She asked Red the price and when he quoted it, she balked and put them away. I pulled her aside (the best I could in a 10″ space) and whispered: “Ma, for piss sakes, you’re supposed to bargain!” Instead, she and Red started talking about our town (since they’ve both been around almost from it’s conception in 1829) and while I was leaning on a dusty, moldy something or other in a building that wasn’t air conditioned on a 100 degree day, I began to get a bit delirious. Not really wanting to be a part of their conversation but needing something to take my mind off the heat stroke I could feel coming, I made a couple of quips I found amusing. Red didn’t. He looked at me like I was nuts. Which…actually…as we all know…I pretty much am. 🙄

Finally, I rasped: “Ma, we need to get going…” and I took matters in my own hands: I got my chest, 2 vintage quilts and an AWESOME vintage lamp for $150 less than marked. After we shook sweaty palms on it, Red looked gobsmacked. I think the heat had made him delirious too (believe me…this guy is known to be a bit of a shyster and I guarantee you he made plenty of money on this sale).

So, we were all loaded up and I was getting ready to pull away from the curb when he comes trotting out. I rolled down my window and said: “Whatcha need?” And he said: “What all did you get?” I told him and he rolled his rheumy old eyes and said it had been our lucky day. Yes. I was lucky in that I didn’t think I’d have to visit the ER that evening after all. When he was walking away I shouted: “I thought you were coming back to ask me out!” He looked back at me and said: “No.” Well…that hurt. 🙄

Anyhoot, ma and I always have fun when we’re together and we got laughing so hard at times this past weekend we almost peed ourselves. However, just because I love my sissy so much, I’m going to let her schlep ma around next weekend. Not that I need a break or anything. Just because I want to make up for what she missed while on vacation. I’m all heart.

And ma, you are the best…I love you so much and if you can’t get past another level, holler at me. K?

Kristi xoxo

“Gold Digger” ~ Kanye West

Photo by John Guccione http://www.advergroup.com on Pexels.com

So, what is it about a million dollars? Isn’t that what so many of us wished for when we were little…or older? “Gee, if only I had a million dollars, I’d be set!” Then, we’d make a list of everything we wanted: a mansion with a pool…the best car out there…not ever having to work again…all the clothes we could ever want…and the list went on. You know, I still hear people say this (except in this economy, it’s more like “I wish I had a couple million dollars” 🙄) but I think about whether or not it’s really the thing to want…to desire…to dream about.

Yes, I do believe money can buy certain non-tangeable things like security, better safety, and the such, but what else can it REALLY buy? Happiness? Love? Fulfillment? Respect?

Hmmmmm…now that’s I’m a cough-cough…tad older…I’ve come to realize that what I truly want in life isn’t connected to me winning the lottery at all. Over the last few years I’ve come to see money very differently. Much more utilitarian…and not so much as what dreams are made of.

Let’s take happiness. Now, some might argue that money CAN buy happiness. “Look…it’ll get me a boat, a truck and a cabin in the woods…that’s happiness!” And that’s right. It will get you the stuff you want that can make you happy…but is it the moolah that’s actually causing the happiness? I’ve known people with these things and they still aren’t happy. Still aren’t content. Are actually, still wanting more.

I remember when Hubby #1 (shutty, peeps… 😬) and I moved from our orange and brown, 1 bedroom, teensy tiny kitchen, hideous bathroom apartment to our trailer! I was in heaven! My gosh…no more neighbors clomping around upstairs (although we did have the best neighbors possible 😀) and no more parties blaring downstairs. No more having our allotted parking place being taken over by some boob who had no idea what a ‘reserved’ sign meant and no more traipsing up rickety stairs juggling 3 bags of groceries and an armful of school books.

Now, we had our own driveway…only a couple of stairs…no more people surrounding us with only a piece of drywall separating us. It was heaven on earth. Even the avocado color scheme was a welcome change from the darkness of what we’d had. Could we ever be happier? Would we ever out-grow this nirvana? Well. Yes.

The trailer that was HUGE when we moved in suddenly became just as full and cluttered as our apartment had been thanks to my penchant for thrift shopping. Whenever I found something that I just knew we had the space for, I bought it…not realizing that each item actually did take up an area of finite space that was shrinking with each trip I took in the car. And the avocado color scheme I thought was so beautiful and fresh and nature-y? It started looking like someone puked up spinach all over the place. 🤢

SOOOOO…we bought our first house! YEA! Now this was IT! I would never want anything else than our own house. This is where we’d raise our family and have dinners for our grandkids and throw parties and do whatever it was we wanted. And, it was all well and good. Until 2 weeks after we moved in and Hubby said he wanted a divorce. Heh? We finally ‘made it’ to where we had dreamed and he wanted out? Hmmmm.

Why is it we still live in a society where having money means ‘you made it.’ Because someone else’s bank account is bigger than yours, they just have to be happier. I’ll share a secret with you. I believed this for a long time. Then, my world got shook up and I finally realized what I really needed…and what could actually be in my reach if I worked at it. It didn’t have to be a dream…it could be a reality.

Instead of dreaming about being a millionaire, I decided that I’d rather be loved, happy, and content with a feeling of purpose. Just 4 things…instead of a million bucks.

For so long in my life, I thought of myself as being unlovable. Face it, after 2 years of being sexually abused, 3 divorces (yes, you may roll your eyes 🙄) and a couple of break-ups, it’s pretty hard not to feel this way. After Hubby 3 and I divorced and then J and I had our tumultuous relationship, I felt more unlovable than I ever had in my entire life. Hubby and I still talk daily…and lately he’s told me how much he regrets leaving and that he still loves me. No. He doesn’t. At least not in the way he’s talking about. He loves what we HAD. He misses the life we had built. He’s found out that doesn’t happen often. BUT, he doesn’t love ‘me’. If he did…well…he wouldn’t have walked out that door.

Then I had J for 3 years. Manipulative, gaslighting, cheating, emotionally and physically abusive J. And, I loved him. A lot. (Doesn’t this just show how irrational our emotions are?) And, he said he loved me. A lot. It’s took quite a while to realize this, but no. He didn’t. You know, I’ve never laid a hand on my son…and yes, he was always well behaved. I’ve never laid a had on my poochies…and yes, they are cough-cough…’sorta’…well behaved. And why haven’t I done that? Because I love them. You do NOT hurt what you love. (PLEASE don’t give me a lecture on physical punishment for kids…that’s a can of worms I don’t want to open and discuss…but when every single medical association, psychiatric/psychological association, school organization, etc. ALL say that physical punishment is wrong, I’m in pretty good company. Let’s leave it at that.) NOW, I will admit this: there were times I was so angry or upset at my boy or dogs that I had an ‘urge’ to lash out…but my love for them stopped it.

Then I was alone for a year…during a pandemic where I had only myself to be with for the great majority of the time and I got to know me in a way I never had before. I started liking me. Even loving me. And that felt great! That I could give myself what I needed was something I never knew was in me. Then, Bill came ambling along and he loves me too. We love each other when we’re crabby and tired and stressed…and not just when it’s good. He’s never threatened me with anything…talked poorly about me to others…blamed me for things outside of my realm of power…and has always either asked for or accepted forgiveness. At the age of 54, I finally can see what love is from the inside and the out. That, my grasshoppers, is worth more than a million bucks.

Contentment. Now that’s an interesting word. Synonyms include being comfortable, satisfied, and fulfilled. I was really content when I was married to Oliver’s dad. I loved loved loved our life together because I was raising a family which had always been my dream. But I also worried that this could be taken away from me if I didn’t measure up to the standard of the his family. And believe me, this standard was high. So I worked my ass off for this ‘contentment’ and maybe that tainted it in a lot of ways. B’s family is a cutter-offer type of family. There’s a divorce? Cut the person out of every picture that ever existed of them even though they are the mother or father of your grandchildren. Piss one of them off…and you’ll need to beg for their attention once again. So, yes, I was content in raising my family and being a mommy…but I was also worried it was an illusion at times…something that could be taken away with any stumble on my part. That was a shit-load of pressure…particularly for someone who’s bipolar and stumbles her way through life anyway.

I’m content now. Finally now. It’s not because I’m with Bill or because my career rocks or because I have the best kid in the universe or because I live in a cute house or because I have family that loves me. It’s because I’m OK with me. Satisfied with me. If I had to be alone, I’d be OK. I’ve come to realize that. I don’t worry about stumbling anymore. Because, for the first time in my life, I’ve learned to pick my own self up and keep moving forward.

And purpose? I think we all have this question that’s been around since the beginning of time: “What am I here for? What’s my life all about?” I’m going to be honest here. I always saw myself as another Oprah…someone who asked the hard questions and dug deep into issues and looked great on TV. That was my dream. Still is actually. But, my purpose is 2 fold: to be a great mom and to be a great professor. Am I great? Depends on what day you ask my son or whether or not I let a student make-up an exam. But I feel like I’m doing what I was put on this earth for. Along with the purpose of teaching, I know I was meant to teach as much as I can about mental illness. I believe everything happens for a reason…I also don’t pretend to know what those reasons are. There’s so much I don’t understand. But, I finally understand why I have bipolar…because I can use my opportunities of teaching to help others understand mental illness and start to break the stigma of it themselves. Does this make up for what this fucking (sorry, ma 😐) bipolar puts me through. Well….no. It does not. But, does it make it more tolerable…knowing I’m using it for others to learn from? Yes. It does.

And then there’s happiness. The word that’s so different for everyone but so widely sought after by us all. Let’s see…I’m loved, content, and have a purpose in life. Yes. I am happy. Happy with me. Happy with my life. Happy with what I have.

If I were to win a million dollars tonight, my world would change. I could go out and buy to my hearts content. But…would I alienate family? Would I suddenly quit my job and forget the purpose I have? Would I have to worry about how to spend it…who to spend it on…what charities to give it too? WOULD this windfall make me happy? Is this the end all/get all in life? I don’t think so. Not anymore. Because, my sweet peeps, I’ve got all I need right now.

Kristi xoxo

“My mama told me…you’d better shop around.” ~ Captain and Tennille

From the Dallas Morning News

So, when I go to the great heavenly crafting area in the sky, I’m hoping my last conscious act will be buying something at IKEA. Preferably, I’ll be buying yet another organizing system while shoving Swedish meatballs down my gullet. Awwww…what more could I want? Well…that my son and my 15 grandbabies are there with me…but…that may be too much to ask. 🙄

Anyhoot, I had never heard of IKEA (except in a King of Queens episode and I didn’t understand the reference) until Oliver moved to Texas and we went to one in Dallas. Before we left he said: “Ma. This is a really cool store and we will be there most of the day. Be sure to pee before we leave and have an appetite.” I said: “Oliver. We won’t be there most of the day because you are not a ‘browser’. I always have an appetite and the next time you tell me to pee as if I’m an elderly aunt, I’ll ‘forget’ all about your next birthday. Kapeesh?” So I peed, had an appetite and made sure my debit card was handy.

Everywhere you drive in Texas takes forever since it’s so freaking big (I LOVE Texas…I’d live there in a heartbeat! 🤠) but I knew we were getting close when the hairs on the back of my neck started to prickle and the smell of furniture was in the air. We found a parking spot so far away that we could barely see the store on the horizon, but after a nice trek over the macadam, we entered the doors.

My IKEA living room!

My first thought was “What the hell? This sucks balls. It’s a concrete warehouse.” I rolled my eyes at Oliver and he pointed to the escalator. We got off and I swear I heard some angels singing while I took in the sights: furniture, dishes, lights, full decorated rooms, linens, rugs…it was like every single store I had ever dreamed about was rolled into 1. I had found my utopia.

I started, manically I might add 🙄, running around and exclaiming over everything with glee. Oliver reigned me in (which is never an easy thing to do) and said: “Ma. You have to follow the arrows. We walk through the entire thing.” WHAT? OMG! Not only did this store have everything my little heart desired in life, but directions? That was super fine for my OCD tendencies. Could it get any better? 🤔

Yes, it could. We started in living rooms and I took pics of EVERY single one (to Oliver’s obvious embarrassment 😐) exclaiming in my LOUD professor-teaching voice: “I want my house to look just like this!” If I had my way, my dream home would consist of a humongous structure that had as many living rooms, kitchens, and offices as IKEA does. I’ve already started saving.

Plants at IKEA? Yes!

I was amazed by all the colors and design ideas and funky looks but said to Oliver: “But what can you buy?” Dumfounded he said: “Ma. You can buy everything. Just don’t go overboard like you usually do.” Apparently my eyes rolled back in my head and I started having heart palpitations…I was able to squeak out “GET A CART” before I had to lean against a wall and catch my breath. It was a moment of pure elation.

Now, for those of you who may not know, IKEA is a Swedish company and all of their products are priced low but are quite chic. For example, my sofa cost $1300 at a furniture store in town…I could have bought one at IKEA for a couple hundred. And, believe it or not, the quality is really good for the price. They specialize in affordable products that are decorative and sturdy. And yes, that’s all well and good. But I’m going for looks, peeps! And they got ’em.

Our First Trip!

So I began pushing my cart around the maze of rooms and started coming across the bins of items and tags you snap a pic of to pick up later. Within 5 minutes, the cart was full and Oliver was saying: “Ma. You flew here. What the hell?” And I said: “Oliver. I’m your mother. Hush it up. I’ll figure it out.” Which, by the way, I did. Sort of. Oliver had to ‘store’ some of my things for future trips when I only packed a few pairs of undies and 1 extra shirt so my suitcase was empty for more goodies to lug home.

After we shopped for about 4 hours, I was exhausted…both mentally and physically and Oliver told me I just had to eat IKEA’s famous meatballs. Sure! So, we chowed down on a couple plates of meatballs and I told myself I will never eat another type of meatball in all my life. And actually, that ended up being a lie. Not 2 days later I was gorging on Olive Garden’s spaghetti and meatballs, but that doesn’t really count. Different countries…different balls. 😉

Anyhoot, the other day, Oliver, his girlfriend (K) and I went to the IKEA in St. Louis to get some things for their new house. I sternly told myself: “Kristi, this trip is for Oliver and K. Not you. You don’t need to buy anything…you have enough ‘stuff’. Focus on your son and save your money.” So, I ended up only spending around $700. I was quite proud of my restraint. However, Oliver and K bought about the same amount of stuff too…and as stoked as were were about our finds, we started to worry as we pushed out a furniture cart, 2 regular carts, all while carrying 3 huge IKEA bags to the loading zone. We drove my Jeep Renegade and it’s not a huge SUV. In fact, it’s a bit small. But my son is a complete rock star…he was able to get everything packed in with ‘justenoughroom’ for the 3 of us. You couldn’t have added a pack of gum to the Jeep…it was that tight.

Oliver and K trying to figure out how to load the Jeep!

My big find was a cabinet I’ve been wanting that I saw people on Pinterest using for plants. I got it put together and ta-da…I loved it…but a bit too much. The next day, I ‘had’ to drive all the way back down to St. Louis (5 hours round-trip 😳) just to buy another one. That’s all I wanted and all I ‘basically’ got. Well…I did buy some artwork. And storage bins. And towels. And plants. And a couple cute garbage cans. But that was all. I ate my meatballs and headed home.

When ma visited Texas with me, we took her and she had the same reaction…she was gobsmacked. It was so much fun showing her around and seeing her get excited about $.99 potholders. Sissy, ma and I are going down for a girls day this summer, and I have a feeling we’ll buy out most of the store. I can’t wait.

Anyhoot, now you know why I want IKEA as a final resting place. It’s always fun…there’s so much to see…there’s so much to buy…there’s so much to eat…and for a manic gal like me, the space, colors, and ideas satisfy my need for stimulation. Win win. So…if you ever come to IL, look me up and I’ll take you down there. Not for me, mind you…but for you. I won’t buy a thing. Except maybe another cabinet. And a new rug. And maybe a few knick-knacks. I guess we’ll just have to see.

Kristi xoxo